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Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters

Norton, John D. (2011) Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters. [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    It is proposed that we use the term “approximation” for inexact description of a target system and “idealization” for another system whose properties also provide an inexact description of the target system. Since systems generated by a limiting process can often have quite unexpected, even inconsistent properties, familiar limit systems used in statistical physics can fail to provide idealizations, but are merely approximations. A dominance argument suggests that the limiting idealizations of statistical physics should be demoted to approximations.


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: For updates, see http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/jdnorton.html
    Keywords: Approximation, idealization, phase transitio, thermodynamic limit
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Condensed Matter
    General Issues > Models and Idealization
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
    Depositing User: John Norton
    Date Deposited: 25 May 2011 12:05
    Last Modified: 25 May 2011 12:05
    Item ID: 8622
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/8622

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